Friday, February 28, 2014


Extinction Risk and Conservation of the World's Sharks and Rays is an amazing read encompassing many facets of shark science and conservation. It should be mandatory reading for anyone interested in sharks. We promised we'd tweet some our favorite facts. Do not confuse #RealSharkFacts with #FakeSharkWeekFacts

International Ocean Roundup V


Seafaring Drug Smugglers Challenging Coast Guard
U.S. – 24 February 2014 – ABC News
While security has tightened at the U.S. border, drug smugglers are increasingly turning to the high seas. The area where boats were seized off California and the northwest coast of Mexico tripled to a size comparable to the state of Montana during the 2013 fiscal year, which ended in September. Off South America, traffickers over the years have been traversing territory so big the continental United States could be dropped inside of it.

Gulf of Mexico fish farms move another step closer to reality
U.S. – 18 February 2014 –
The possibility of Gulf of Mexico aquaculture moved another step closer to reality this month. But the small step forward – mainly adding a few rules for the proposed fish farming – caused fishers and environmentalists to once again speak out against an idea they fear will unfairly compete against local fishers and pollute local waters.

Cape Cod fishermen hoping for a lifeline as the region faces ongoing cod shortages
U.S. – 24 February 2014 – The Independent
The fishermen of Cape Cod have been forced to approach the American government for a bailout to save the region’s fishing community. Falling catches, caused by a combination of overfishing and a predatory seal population, are driving many fishermen out of business, The Telegraph reported.

John Kerry calls for ‘far more robust’ international dialogue to protect world’s oceans
U.S. – 26 February 2014 –
US secretary of state John Kerry urged international community to engage in a “far more robust” dialogue about the health of the oceans this week, offering a grim view of the current state of the oceans.

Seven New Tuna Seiners For Mexican Fleet
Mexico – 27 February 2014 –
Seven new tuna purse seine vessels are being added to the Mexican fishing fleet and will contrite to increasing food production and economic development of the country.

NOAA Urged Not to Walk Awa From Bigeye Commitment
U.S. – 25 February 2014 –
NOAA is being urged by environmental group, Pew Charitable Trusts, not to walk away on its commitment to reduce the catch of bigeye tuna in order to prevent further overfishing of the species.

Saving sharks one sandwich at a time: conservationists target 'shark bake'
Trinidad and Tobago – 28 February 2014 – Monga Bay
Thousands of Carnival revelers in Trinidad wouldn't think of missing the chance to go to Maracas Beach, the most famous strip of sand on the small Caribbean island off the northeast coast of Venezuela. Beachgoers might not think twice about eating a favorite food called "shark bake" either – at least, until now

USS Rentz returns from 7-month deployment
United States – 28 February 2014 – Fox 5 San Diego
The guided-missile frigate USS Rentz is scheduled to return Friday morning to San Diego from a seven-month deployment, according to the Navy. The Navy said the crew found 963 kilograms of cocaine in the hold of a fishing boat on Aug. 10, 260 miles north of the Galapagos Islands. On Nov. 30, the sailors teamed up with the Coast Guard cutter Rush to seize 460 kilograms in a Costa Rican fishing boat off Panama. More than 300 kilograms were found Dec. 17 aboard a fleeing Ecuadorian vessel northeast of the Galapagos Islands, according to the Navy. The Navy said the final seizure was made Jan. 20, when 243 kilograms was taken from a boat that had been spotted by an aircraft.

Texas Boats Combat Drug Cartels on the Rio Grande
United States – 28 February 2014 –
According to the Texas DPS, Mexican cartels are the state’s biggest, organized crime threat. Six out of eight major Mexican cartels have command-and-control networks in Texas, and they use the Lone Star State as a transshipment center for marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and people to the rest of the United States. The cartels also transport cash, weapons and stolen vehicles through Texas back to Mexico. Texas has 27 ports of entry, 1,254 miles of border with Mexico and 367 miles of coastline, making it hard to watch smugglers


New Zealand Tackles Illegal Fishing
New Zealand – 25 February 2014 – World Fishing
New Zealand has ratified an international fisheries agreement that aims to fight illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.

NZ Ratification of Global Fisheries Agreement a Positive Step
New Zealand – 27 February 2014 – The Fish Site
The Maritime Union of New Zealand says the ratification of a new global fisheries agreement by the New Zealand Government is positive news. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Port State Measures Agreement is designed to fight illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.

Foreign fleets pushing Pacific tuna fishing industry to the brink of collapse
Australia – 27 February 2014 – Australia
Tuna fishing nations in the Pacific say their industry is close to collapse because they can no longer compete with the growing number of foreign fleets fishing in their waters. The Western and Central Pacific has the world's largest tuna fishery, worth an estimated $7 billion a year.

New foreign fishing boats “plundering” the Pacific
Samoa – 24 February 26, 2014 – Samoa Observer
Apia Export Fish Packers Managing Director John Luff is calling on government to take action at a regional level to stop foreign vessels “plundering” Pacific fish stocks. Like the rest of the region, Samoa fish stocks are collapsing because of the introduction of “hundreds” of new fishing vessels to the region, said Mr. Luff.

India, more than 900 sea turtles killed by illegal fishing
India – 27 February 2014 – Asia News
The animals become entangled in trawling fishing nets. The discovery was made on a beach in Andhra Pradesh. The olive ridley turtle lives in the Indian Ocean and reaches the coast to spawn

Stoush brews over Russian fishing vessel
South Pacific – 24 February 2014 – Stuff New Zealand
A high seas political stoush is brewing over a Russian-flagged ship that claims to be the world's largest fishing vessel. New Zealand and others suspect the ship cannot fish at all and is instead creating fake data that will enable it to be allocated a legal quota in coming years.

Patrol boats handed to coastal towns
Philippines – 25 February 2014 – Business Week Mindanao
The provincial government recently turned over patrol boats to the province’s coastal towns to be used in patrolling the seashores against timber poachers and illegal fishing activities.

Foreign fleets scuppering Pacific tuna industry
Australia – 25 February 2014 – Australia Network News
Tuna fishing nations of the Pacific say their industry is close to collapse due to competition from the growing number of foreign fleets fishing in their waters.

Thai fisheries under pressure
Thailand – 27 February 2014 – Worldfishing
David Hayes reports on the challenges that Thai fisheries are currently facing.

Pole and Line Nation Deveopling Longline to Battle IUU
Maldives – 25 February 2014 –
Primarily known as a pole and line tuna fishing nation, the Fisheries Ministry of the Maldives has launched a program to teach longline fishing to young people in the country, a scheme in collaboration with the Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company (MIFCO).

Task force against illegal trawlers in Muar
Malaysia – 28 February 2014 – New Straits Times
Local fishermen here have set up a task force to monitor illegal trawling boats intruding into Muar waters. Muar-Batu Pahat Fishermen's Association president Ser Boon Huat said the task force comprised 20 fishing boats and 60 fishermen from fishing villages along the Muar-Bagan coast.

SIDS Becoming the BOSS of Tuna
Fiji – 26 February 2014 –
“The Small Island Developing States (SIDS) or ‘Big Ocean Sovereignty States (BOSS)’ as I like to call them, have a choice before them.” This is the perspective from Already “Bubba” Cook, WWF’s Western and Central Pacific Tuna Programme Manager, working from Fiji.

Europe –MENA

Norway calls for global catch certificate to fight IUU
Norway – 26 February 2014 – Undercurrent News
Norway has received support from the United Organizations for its proposal to develop a global, common catch certificate for fish, which will help in fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, said Norway’s fisheries minister Elisabeth Aspaker.

High seas need international police force, says former UK foreign secretary
U.S. – 25 February 2014 – The Guardian
The former UK foreign secretary and president of the New York-based International Rescue Committee, David Miliband, is urging the creation of a seagoing police force to bring order to the "wild west" free-for-all on the high seas that is damaging the health of the world's oceans.

EU promising more aid to the Pacific
European Union – 27 February 2014 – Radio New Zealand
The European Union says it is planning to significantly increase aid support with Pacific countries over the next 6 years.
Representatives of the island countries and EU representatives are meeting in Suva for discussions on the 11th EDF regional envelope for the Pacific region through to 2020.

Better management needed for EU seas
European Union – 27 February 2014 – Worldfishing & Aquaculture
Europe’s marine species, habitats and ecosystems continue to be threatened by human impact, and with maritime economic activities forecasted to increase in coming years, better management is needed, says the European Environment Agency (EEA).

Spanish Fisherman Fined for Illegal Fishing Activity
Ireland – 28 February 2014 – Afloat
Following a conviction at Cork Circuit Court, today, Friday 28th February, the Master of a Spanish fishing vessel was fined a total of €2,500 and forfeited €80,000, being the assessed value of his catch and a further €12,500 for the fishing gear onboard.


Senegal's firebrand fisheries minister turns his ire on foreign factory ships
Senegal - 26 February 2014 – The Guardian
Donor countries are acting at cross purposes by tolerating, and in some cases registering, giant trawlers whose fishing techniques undermine west African food security, according to Senegal's fisheries minister.

Africa’s plan to police violent seas is more hope than strategy
Africa – 21 February 2014 – The Conversation
Maritime security is fundamental to economic development all over the world, from local to regional up to international levels. The sea-based trading system, developed mostly by states with maritime borders, offers access to and distribution of energy resources, raw materials and all kind of products around the world.

Kenya to Step Up Surveillance on Its Tuna Resources
Kenya - 24 February 2014 –
The Kenyan Government has made plans to step-up the surveillance of its waters.


Technology for Fisheries Monitoring and Surveillance
Global – 27 February 2014 –
Monitoring and surveillance of fisheries is a complex and challenging problem. Traditionally, ships and aircraft have been the mainstay of surveillance efforts, however, the use of satellites and other technologies by fisheries enforcement officials has increased in recent years.

Humans are damaging the high seas. Now the oceans are doing harm back
Global – 22 February 2014 – The Economist
ABOUT 3 billion people live within 100 miles (160km) of the sea, a number that could double in the next decade as humans flock to coastal cities like gulls. The oceans produce $3 trillion of goods and services each year and untold value for the Earth’s ecology. Life could not exist without these vast water reserves—and, if anything, they are becoming even more important to humans than before.

Unmasking illegal fishing activities
Global – 26 February 2014 – World Fishing and Aquaculture
At the fourth Global Fisheries Enforcement Training Workshop in Costa Rica delegates were told that analysis of fisheries trade data provides a cost effective and helpful method for tackling illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The tragedy of the high seas
Global – 20 February 2014 – The Economist
IN 1968 an American ecologist, Garrett Hardin, published an article entitled “The Tragedy of the Commons”.

Can World Leaders Tame the Wild West of the High Seas?
Global – 26 February 2014 – National Geographic
Earlier this month, Indonesia announced the world’s largest sanctuary for manta rays. At the World Ocean Summit Tuesday, Peter Seligmann, the CEO of Conservation International, said the sanctuary “was not done out of good will, it was done out of enlightened self interest.”

Manta Rays - Big pond for a big fish
Global – 25 February 2014 – The Economist
MARINE conservationists are hailing it as a significant step towards preserving a species that has been fished almost to extinction in some parts of the world.

Chile aids stranded Korean ship in Antarctica
Antarctica – 24 February 2014 – The Associated Press
A Korean-flagged fishing ship is stranded in Antarctica with 90 passengers aboard.
Chile's Navy said Monday that the Kwang Ja Ho struck the ocean floor about 1,500 feet (450 meters) from the coast while cruising through Antarctic waters.

Authorities Planning to Put Hold on High-Seas Fishing in the Arctic Ocean
Arctic – 24 February 2014 – New Tonight Africa
A three-day meeting is held by U. S. officials in Greenland to encourage Arctic authorities to put hold on high-seas fishing in the Arctic Ocean. An agreement has been proposed by U. S. that will halt international commercial fishing in the Arctic Ocean.

Numbers back high seas fishing ban
High Seas – 26 February 2014 – Global Post
Fishing the high seas is a losing investment, an economist told political leaders, corporate kings and environmental warriors Wednesday, backing calls for protecting the open seas.

Friday, February 21, 2014

International Ocean Roundup IV


Now Packed With Drama: Cans of Tuna Fish
U.S. – 18 February 2014 – The Wall Street Journal (Subscription required)
The top three canned-tuna brands in the U.S. are foreign-owned, but that doesn't stop them from bickering about which is the most American.

“Buy American” Mud Fight Continues
U.S. – 14 February 2014 –
During the past 3 weeks, has been closely covering the discussions related to the “Buy American” tuna destined for the U.S. school lunch program.

S.F. vendor busted for 2,000 lbs. of shark fins
U.S. – 15 February 2014 – SF Gate
State authorities Friday announced the seizure of more than 2,000 pounds of shark fins from a San Francisco seafood distributor in what is the first major bust under a new California law barring the sale of the traditional Chinese delicacy.

Dolphins suffer miscarriages, lose teeth after BP oil spill - researchers
United States – 18 February 2014 – The New Zealand Herald
Bottlenose dolphins with deformities including missing teeth and lung disease were found in the Gulf of Mexico a year after the BP oil spill, according to US researchers.

Sea Shepherd Successfully Helps Guatemalan Officials to Halt Poaching
Guatemala – 19 February 2014 – Costa Rica Star
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s high-speed trimaran, the Brigitte Bardot has returned from its first successful patrol assisting the Guatemalan Department of Fisheries in its anti-poaching enforcement operations. Asked by Fisheries officials to help battle poaching in Guatemalan waters, Sea Shepherd is helping to lower the impact of illegal fishing of billfish by commercial fishermen.

Costa Rica trying to clamp down on tuna fleet's use of FADs
Costa Rica – 19 February 2014 –
President Laura Chinchilla announced new, stricter tuna fishing rules during her opening remarks at the Fourth Global Fisheries Enforcement Training Workshop in Playa Herradura, on Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast, on Monday.


Indonesia creates manta ray sanctuary hoping to cash in on tourism
Indonesia – 21 February 2014 – The National
Indonesia is now the world’s largest sanctuary for manta rays, after officials were persuaded by evidence that the gentle giants known for delighting tourists are worth more alive than dead.

MOU To Combat Illegal, Unreported And Unregulated Fishing
Fiji – 17 February 2014 – The Jet
The recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Ministry of Fisheries and Forests and Fiji Ports Corporation Limited will strengthen Government’s resolve to address illegal fisheries activities around the country.

Amid Efforts to Expand Marine Preserves, a Warning to Focus on Quality
Palau – 19 February 2014 – International New York Times
A generation ago, when Tommy Remengesau Jr. went fishing off the beautiful island nation of Palau, the seas were so rich, he said, that “I could see great stocks of fish.” Such bounty has since dwindled, in Palau and worldwide. “Reckless and destructive fishing practices, overfishing, and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing have robbed us of our resources,” Mr. Remengesau, now Palau’s president, told the United Nations General Assembly this month. “They must be stopped.”

Seized ship cost $150k to taxpayers
New Zealand – 19 February 2014 – The New Zealand Herald
A seized Korean deep-sea fishing trawler professionally fumigated after being found to be infested with rats and lice has cost taxpayers $150,000 during its extended Dunedin anchorage. Revelations of illegal fishing, human rights and employment abuse, and the infestation have dogged Melilla 201, which docked in Dunedin almost a year ago.

Korea, China Divided over Illegal Fishing in FTA Talks
South Korea – 17 February 2014 – Business Korea
South Korea and China remain divided over a number of issues, such as illegal fishing, that may prevent early conclusion of their negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA), officials here said Sunday.

Monster fishing ship in Pacific, east of Australia
Australia – 17 February 2014 – The Sydney Morning Herald
The world's largest fishing vessel, the factory freezer ship Lafayette, has turned up in the Pacific Ocean east of Australia.

Monster fishing fleet passes through NZ waters
New Zealand – 18 February 2014 – The Southland Times
The world's largest fishing factory freezer ship and its fleet of catcher trawlers has passed through New Zealand's exclusive economic zone around the Kermadec Islands. The Chinese-owned Lafayette, a 49,367 gross ton converted oil tanker flying a Russian flag, uses giant hoses to suck catches from its attendant trawlers.

Govt takes small steps to protect Natuna
Indonesia – 17 February 2014 – The Jakarta Post
According to the Natuna regional administration, at least 11 foreign vessels are apprehended over illegal fishing every year, with a potential state loss of around Rp 2 trillion (US$169 million).

RLECC Bicol createsTWG, steps up campaign vs. illegal fishing
Philippines – 20 February 2014 – Philippine Information Agency
The Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee (RLECC) in Bicol has intensified campaign to put a stop on illegal fishing activities by employing coordinated efforts among government agencies.

Europe –MENA

Norway Starts Experimental Catch of Bluefin
Norway – 20 February 2014 –
The Fisheries Minister of Norway has made the decision to start a Bluefin tuna fishing trial. This follows ICCAT awarding the country with a catch quota 30.97.

Albacora Introduces FAD With “Practically” Zero Bycatch Mortality
Spain – 20 February 2014 –
The largest vertically integrated tuna company in Europe, Albacora Group, which operates about 25% of Europe, Albacora Group, which operates about 25% of Europe’s total purse seiner catching capacity, has introduced an innovative Fish Aggregated Device (FAD) to its fishing operations.

41 Tuna Vessels On the EU IUU List
E.U. – 19 February 2014 –
The European Union has updated its “list of vessels engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing” and 41 tuna vessels have made the cut.

Arab states show the way for shark conservation
Middle East – 21 February 2014 – Gulf News
Signing the Memorandum of Understanding is a major step forward and complements the work done under the Convention on Migratory Species

Coastal fishing industry upbeat about Kenya’s plans to form marine guard
Kenya – 19 February 2014 – In 2 East Africa
Fisheries stakeholders are upbeat over plans by the Government to set up the Kenya Oceans and Fisheries Council as well as a Fisheries Enforcement Unit (equivalent of a Coast Guard).

Somaliland coastguard seize foreign vessel said involved in illegal fishing
Somaliland – 20 February 2014 – BBC Monitoring Africa via Somali-language Universal Tv (no link – via email)
Somaliland Coast guards have said they seized a foreign vessel involved in illegal fishing off the region's coast. The vessel which had up to 25 crew members whose nationalities have not yet been revealed was seized off the Seylac coast. Abdikadir Adan Yusuf, a Somaliland official said they have seized the ship along with the 25 crew members who are now in custody. It is not yet known what measures Somaliland authorities will take against the ship believed to be owned in Egypt along with the crew members.
See also: Somaliland: Government to Avail Fire Power to the Navy

Namibia: 161 Illegal Foreign Fishermen Nabbed
Namibia – 20 February 2014 – New Era via All Africa
Following a New Era exposé on the widespread plunder of fishery resources involving illegal immigrants, law enforcement authorities swung into action and rounded up scores of illegal fishermen this week.

Somalia: Puntland Fisheries Minister calls an end to Illegal foreign Fishing
Somalia – 17 February 2014 – Horseed Media
Puntland Minister for Fisheries and marine resources Mr Abdinur Elmi Bindhe has issued a strong warning against companies and individuals involved in illegal fishing and exploitation of resources around the state’s coastline. Somalia has the longest coastline in Africa with 3,330 KM. Since the central government was overthrown in 1991, foreign fishing trawlers began illegal fishing and ships from big companies started dumping waste off the coast of the lawless country.

Limited Growth Possible for African Tuna Fisheries
Africa – 21 February 2014 –
Expansion possibilities for the EU tuna fleet in African tuna fisheries in the Atlantic Ocean are limited, according to a recent report from the European Commission. Restricted availability of tuna in the region means that Fisheries Partnerships Agreements (FPA) remain the most efficient access route for EU vessel owners and are vital for the continuation of the “proper operability” of the EU fleet in West Africa.

A Method for Predicting Fishing Activity Based on Geospatial Motion Behaviors - Summarized from an Analyze Technical Report

EJF awarded IMCS Network ‘Stop IUU Fishing Award’
21 February 2014 –

DiCaprio $3 Million Shark Protection Grant
20 February 2014 - Guardian Liberty Voice
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio has given a $3 million grant to conservation organization Oceana for the protection of sharks and other marine life. The money donated by Oscar-nominated DiCaprio’s foundation will be used over a three year period, Oceana said.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Reef Manta Moon Parties

Shawn's a direct of the Manta Trust.  Follow him on Facebook.
Guam mantas will be forever mentioned in the scientific literature because of UOG Master of Biology candidate Julie Hartup’s passion for her research subject. She has been studying Guam’s Manta alfredi for eight years and is the first to document a very interesting behavior, mantas eating fish spawn.

Several of Hartup’s paddler and free diving friends told her about seeing mantas congregating purposefully in an area where surgeonfish were spawning. Since they were able to give her an exact date, Julie was able to calculate the moon phase, which is important as many fish synchronize their spawning with the moon. Using this information she predicted when the spawning event would occur that upcoming year and was there to witness a shoal of spawning surgeonfish accompanied by a fever of mantas.

Hartup’s research findings not only highlight important information about mantas, but also reveal predictable spawning aggregations (SPAGs) for three important reef dwellers: Acanthurus triostegus, Acanthurus gutattus, Acanthurus lineatus. These surgeonfish react to the presence of mantas by trying to evade them.

As is often the case with basic research, many more questions evolve out of finding a few answers.

“The mantas come in patterns. Are they herding the spawning fish? Is there cooperative behavior? How do the mantas know to come? Mantas are thought to be singular except for feeding or visiting cleaning station. Are they really singular or more social than we know? These are some of the questions I really want to investigate,” said Hartup.

What science does know about mantas is that they live 40 to 50 years and are late to mature. They usually have only one pup every two to five years, which takes 13 months to develop and comes out rolled up like a burrito. There is no parental care, so the pups navigate life without motherly guidance. No one knows where mantas have their young.

“I believe mantas must have a remarkable sensory system. Their cerebellum and frontal lobes are quite large so they are naturally curious and will check out humans in their vicinity,” explained Hartup. Through direct observation, photographs, and videos she has documented 41 individuals in Guam, but there is a massive lack of information about the lives of mantas in Micronesia.

In 2008 the Yap state government passed Law No. 7-36 which designates “…all the internal and territorial waters of the State of Yap are hereby established as an official sanctuary for manta rays.”

Hartup’s research has been tapped by the Yap government to develop an effective management plan for the protection of the mantas in Yap. She has been collecting data on Yap’s mantas for several years. “By understanding the lives of Micronesia’s mantas, we’ll know where to start protecting them.”

Hartup wants to document them before they are lost to the threats of human encroachment or habitat degradation.

Julie Hartup is the Mariana Islands Program Leader for the Manta Trust, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to research and conservation of mantas and their ocean home. She is making a difference in the region one manta at a time. Please visit for more information about manta research around the globe.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Nadi Workshop

The CITES workshop hosted by Fiji, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Coral Reef Alliance in Nadi, Fiji last week was very successful.  Here is some of the media surrounding the two day workshop:

Pacific Countries Prepare to Enforce Historic Shark Protections
In seven months, more than 170 countries will start enforcing trade protections to help save several shark species from extinction. Next week, preparation in the Pacific region begins in earnest.
On Feb. 11 and 12, government representatives from 11 countries will gather in Nadi, Fiji, to discuss the implementation of international shark protections approved under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES. The workshop is hosted by the Fijian government, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Coral Reef Alliance.
11 Countries to Talk Shark Conservation
FIJI will next week play host to one of the most important shark conservation forums this year, with reps from 11 countries from around the region expected to gather in Nadi to discuss protection measures.
Restoring Shark Populations in the South Pacific
FIJI will play a key role in restoring shark populations in the South Pacific.
This was one of the messages from a manager at Pew Charitable Trusts, Angelo Villagomez, who said Fiji, as a party to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), would be an important part of a shark conservation conference which begins today in Nadi.
"This meeting, sponsored by the Department of Environment, Pew, and the Coral Reef Alliance, will help the Pacific parties to the CITES convention, including Fiji, implement the new protections for oceanic whitetip and three species of hammerhead sharks," Mr Villagomez explained yesterday.
Shark Fin Trade Under Spotlight
CUSTOMS officers on the frontline of border security can now play a major part in the banning of imports and exports of shark fins.
Assistant professor for New York-based Stony Brook University Dr Demian Chapman, who is in the country for a shark conservation workshop in Nadi, will train Customs officers on correctly identifying shark fins.
New Shark Trade Regulation
A NEW rule coming into effect on September 14 this year will require all countries to regulate the trade of sharks. This will allow for better protection of sharks worldwide, particularly those on the endangered list.
Conference in Fiji prepares to introduce new shark protection laws
Conservationists throughout the Pacific are hoping to strike a significant blow to the global trade in shark fin.
Fisheries officials and non-goverment organisation's throughout the Pacific are in Fiji preparing to introduce historic new measures to preserve shark numbers.
New Shark Trade Regulation
A new rule coming into effect on September 14 this year will require all countries to regulate the trade of sharks.
This will allow for better protection of sharks worldwide, particularly those on the endangered list.
Imogen Zethoven, the global shark conservation project director with Pew Charitable Trust, said the new rule was being implemented at a critical time.
Speaking at a shark conservation workshop in Nadi on Tuesday, she said not many rules had been put in place by countries worldwide regarding shark conservation.
“This is the problem and why we are seeing such a decline in the shark populations," she said.

International Ocean Roundup III

We're a couple of days late with this.  The good news, is that the next one is just two days away.


Economic Threat of Pirate Fishing: Senators Stand up for Alaska Fishermen, Coastal Communities
United States – 12 February 2014 –
With the pirate fishing industry costing coastal Alaskan communities millions of dollars, U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich stood up today for Alaska fishermen who play by the rules and coastal communities.

Mafia Frozen Fish Cocaine Connection Busted by FBI
United States – 11 February 2014 – International Business Times
US and Italian Mafia families planned to traffic drugs from South America to Europe hidden in shipments of pineapples and frozen fish in a criminal joint venture unveiled by police.

CG Assists Sinking Fishing Vessel, Saves Crew
United States – 11 February 2014 –
At 11:15 a.m., a Good Samaritan notified watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center that the 66-foot commercial fishing vessel Sea Moon was flooded and dead in the water with crewmembers using buckets to dewater the boat.

40 Dominican fishermen detained in Bahamas after boat stopped on suspicion of poaching
Bahamas – 9 February 2014 – Edmonton Journal
Forty Dominican fishermen have been taken into custody on suspicion of poaching in Bahamian waters. The islands' military said Sunday that one of its patrol boats detained a 70-foot (21-meter) fishing vessel off Andros Island, the largest and least populated island in the sprawling archipelago off Florida's east coast.

Overfishing concerns
Canada – 12 February 2014 – The Now News
Reports of rampant overfishing, a decreased federal fisheries presence and no requirement to record the catch - add it all up, and a perfect storm seems to be brewing off the waters of Belcarra. Fisheries and Oceans Canada confirmed Tuesday that crabbing remains one of the most significant problems in the area.

Toxins released by oil spills send fish hearts into cardiac arrest
United States – 13 February 2014 – LA Times
Scientists have cracked a cellular biology mystery underlying a harmful effect oil spills have on fish: irregular heartbeats that can lead to cardiac arrest. In studying the effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill on bluefin tuna spawning in the Gulf of Mexico, the research team discovered that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, block “signaling pathways” that allow potassium and calcium ions to flow in and out of cardiac cell membranes and sustain normal heart rates.

Tuna fattened in Ensenada reaches tables in Dubai
Mexico – 14 February 2014 –
Baja California producers began sending Atlantic bluefin tuna reared in Ensenada to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, anounced the Undersecretary of Fisheries of Baja California, Matias Arjona Rydalch.


Fishing firms lied about catches
New Zealand – 10 February 2014 – Stuff New Zealand
South Korean fishing boats chasing toothfish in the Southern Ocean have been ordered out after New Zealand scientists discovered they were deliberately misreporting their catches. In 2012 the Korean ship Insung No 7 illegally took $600,000 worth of toothfish from the Southern Ocean and was fined only $1800 by its government.

Conference in Fiji prepares to introduce new shark protection laws
Fiji – 12 February 2014 – Radio Australia
Fisheries officials and non-goverment organisation's throughout the Pacific are in Fiji preparing to introduce historic new measures to preserve shark numbers.

12-year olds in Fiji’s second domestic human trafficking case
Fiji – February 2014 – Islands Business
Ongoing police investigation into a human trafficking racket in Fiji has uncovered the exploitation of two 12-year old girls who are allegedly being sold for sex.

Auckland fishing company convicted for fisheries offending
New Zealand – 10 February 2014 –
An Auckland-based commercial fishing company and its Nelson based skipper were sentenced on Friday 7 February in the Wellington District Court for making false statements on fishing returns for the 2009/10 commercial fishing season and bottom trawling in a protected area.

Malaysia Wants Massive Expansion of Own Indian Ocean Fleet
Malaysia – 13 February 2014 –
Malaysia has interests in massively expanding its own Indian Ocean tuna fleet. Its location near to these waters that are considered a tuna spawning ground, gives the country the potential to become an international tuna port.

Address key issues
Fiji – 8 February 2014 – The Fiji Times
LEGISLATION which exist to address key issues surrounding illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing globally are simply not being implemented well enough. This was one of problems highlighted by the keynote speaker at Friday night's lecture on responses to IUU fishing, Professor William Edeson.

TUNANOMICS workshop for journalists on tuna fisheries economics and challenges
Solomon Islands -13 February 2014 – Solomon Star News
Development of Sustainable Tuna fisheries in the Pacific ACP countries is vital if tuna market is to be maintained in the region.

Europe –MENA
EU fisheries subsidies contribute to 'oversized' fleet
Europe – 7 February 2014 – The Parliament
The agreement on fisheries subsidies improve the possibility of data collection, but hinder the process of improving Europe's declining fish stocks, writes Monica Verbeek.

New control centre discovers widespread illegal trawling
Malta – 12 February 2014 – Malta Today
Illegal trawling of fish may have been a commonplace activity before 2013: since the establishment of Malta's first-ever control room to monitor vessels inside the fisheries management zone, 21 cases of illegal fishing and trawling were reported last year.

EU Invests Heavily in Combatting IUU – But Is It Enough?
Europe – 10 February 2014 –
Since 2010, around 230 controls to combat illegal fishing in EU Member States have been made by the European Union’s European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA).

Overfishing leaves Turkish waters bare
Turkey – 11 February 2014 – IOL
“Balik ekmek! Balik ekmek!” (Fish bread! Fish bread!) yell the vendors tucked under Istanbul's Galata Bridge, dishing out fish sandwiches to hordes of hungry locals and tourists much as they have for decades. But frozen mackerel from Norway or imports from Morocco are more likely to fill the onion, lettuce and pickle stuffed buns than a fresh catch from the Bosphorus or Marmara Sea.

Fresh opportunities for EU fleet
European Union – 13 February 2014 –
THE European Parliament has today given its consent to a new €140 million, 4-year fisheries agreement with Morocco. The total cost of the new Protocol to the EU will be €30m a year, of which €16m compensates Morocco for access to the resource and €14m is directed towards supporting the fisheries sector in the country.

UAE acts to stop shark-finning in Middle East
UAE – 13 February 2014 – Gulf News
Seven Arab countries will mark an historic milestone on Monday when they sign an agreement in Dubai to protect migrating sharks in Middle East waters from illegal trade.


Kenya: Two Vessels Denied Entry At Mombasa
Kenya – 13 February 2014 – All Africa
TWO Indonesian illegal fishing vessels were last week barred from Kenyan waters, authorities have said. Berkat Menjala no 23 and Samdera Pacific no 8 intended to dock at the Port of Mombasa for ship stores, bunkers and fresh water supply.

Navy Arrests Three Vessels for Illegal Oil Deals, Fishing
Nigeria – 8 February 2014 – This Day Live
As part of measures to rid the nation's waterways of all forms of illegalities, personnel of the Western Naval Command, Apapa, Lagos, have arrested three vessels for suspected illegal oil deals and fishing.

Navy discovers $1billion worth of heroin
Tanzania – 10 February 2014
The Australian Navy has uncovered another massive haul of heroin off the coast of Africa. 191 kilograms of the drug has been discovered in a fishing vessel near Tanzania worth $380 million on the black market

Addressing holistically the issue of piracy in the horn of Africa
Somalia – 11 February 2014 – Somalia Current
The issue of piracy in the coast of Somalia began in 1990, when foreign vessels flocked to Somalia’s unguarded coast, profiting the marine resources and at times dumping radioactive chemical wastes as evidenced with the barrels of the 2004 Tsunami that surfaced on the northeastern coastal towns of Somalia. According to a report issued by the UN in 2006, Somalia loses annually more than “$300 million worth of seafood” for illegal fishery by foreign vessels. As a result, the country’s coast has become the hotbed for all illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) activities.

Access 34 EU Tuna Vessels To Mauritius EEZ
Mauritius – 12 February 2014 – Business Mega
The European Union Council of Ministers has ratified Protocol between the European Union and the Republic of Mauritius at its ECOFIN session. This is part of definitive endorsement of its fisheries sector Partnership Agreement. Singed in February 2012, the final decision has not been taken until now due to legal differences.

West Africa: "Say No to Fraudulent Fishing Companies", Says Greenpeace
West Africa – 6 February 2014 – All Africa
Greenpeace has today called on African governments to intensify their oversight over Dongwon Industries after it was charged with defrauding the U.S. government. The largest fishing company in South Korea was accused of making false statements in order to obtain U.S. vessel documentation and tuna fishing licenses for two Korean-owned and operated vessels in the South Pacific.

West Africa has vast marine wealth but it is being depleted by the world's highest levels of illegal fishing
West Africa – 5 February 2014 – Chatham House
Coastal waters West African waters have the highest levels of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the world, up to half of the total catch.


35 pictures of the sharkfin trade that will shock and dismay you
Global – 7 February 2014-
Last month scientists released a study warning that one quarter of all sharks and rays are threatened with extinction.

Satellite tracking identifies Atlantic Ocean risk zones for leatherback turtles
12 February 2014 –
Researchers used data from satellite transmitters attached to the turtles to track their movements across the Atlantic Ocean. These movements were then overlapped with information on high pressure fishing areas to identify where the turtles are most susceptible to becoming entangled and where they may drown.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

International Ocean Roundup II

We're a few days late posting this because we're in Fiji for the Pacific Island CITES workshop.  Oh, jetlag.


Dongwon Accused of Fraud on US Flag Seiners
United States – 3 February 2014 –
A court case has been filed in the US District Court of Delaware for fraud allegations against Korean owned fishing company Dongwon, regarding US flagged tuna purse seiners.
See also: South Korean Tuan Company Charged with Defrauding US Government

Man Convicted of Murdering Coast Guard Officer
United States – 5 February 2014 –
A jury convicted a Mexican man of murder on Wednesday for ramming his suspected smuggling vessel into a U.S. Coast Guard inflatable boat, killing an officer on board off the coast of Southern California in 2012, prosecutors said.

American Samoa cannery in Buy American campaign
American Samoa – 6 February 6, 2014 – Radio New Zealand
About 1,200 cannery employees in American Samoa have signed a petition urging the US Secretary of Agriculture not to amend provisions of the Buy American Act.

Coast Guard discovers over a ton of cocaine hidden in a fishing boat
Costa Rica – 5 February 2014 – The Tico Times
Some Costa Rican fisherman thought they caught the big one Wednesday morning before the Coast Guard showed up to hook them.

US mulls sanctions over Iceland whaling
United States – 7 February 2014 – MSN NZ
The United States says Iceland is violating an international agreement through its whaling, opening the possibility of economic sanctions over the controversial hunt.

Coast Guard: Spike in foreign fishing vessel incursions in N. Pacific due to better detection
United States – 6 February 2014 – Kodiak Daily Mirror via
This year’s spike in foreign fishing incursions is based on better detection, not increased foreign fishing activity, says deputy chief of enforcement for the Coast Guard’s 17th District. In 2013 the Coast Guard documented 30 incursions into U.S. waters by foreign vessels in the Alaska area. More than half were by one South Korean trawler.

Caribbean member states of CRFM weigh in on important international case on IUU fishing
Caribbean – 6 February 2014 – Bahamas Islands Info
Seventeen member states of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) are making their voices heard in a milestone international case on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing—dubbed Case No. 21—which is being reviewed by the International Tribunal on Law of the Sea (ITLOS), based in Hamburg, Germany.


Journalist beaten to death in K Chhnang
Cambodia – 3 February 2014 – The Phnom Penh Post
A local journalist was beaten to death in Kampong Chhnang province’s Cholkiri district on Saturday night in an attack that authorities believe may have been related to his reporting on illegal fishing, police said yesterday.

Too little, too late
Fiji – 5 February 2014 – The Fiji Times
FOLLOWING confirmation that the government has reduced tuna fishing licences for 2014/2015, Fiji's tuna boat owners have welcomed the move but fear it may be a case of too little, too late for those now facing financial crises.

Palau President Tommy Remengesau declares marine sanctuary, bans all commercial fishing
Palau – 6 February 2014 – Australia News Network
Palau's President Tommy Remengesau has declared the Pacific nation will become a marine sanctuary, where no commercial fishing will take place.

Lecture highlights Pacific role in addressing IUU fishing issues
Fiji – 7 February 7, 2014 – The Fiji Times
A PUBLIC lecture based on the importance of addressing key issues surrounding illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing globally was hosted last night at USP's marine campus.

Pacific govts told give preference to local fishing fleets
Fiji – 5 February 2014 – Pacific Island News
Pacific Island governments have a responsibility to control tuna fishing in their waters, and should be giving preference to local fishing fleets instead of granting more licences to foreign fishing vessels.

Push for American Samoa to be the tuna 'hub' of the Pacific
American Samoa – 3 February 2014 – Radio New Zealand International
Tri Marine International says it wants American Samoa to be the tuna hub of the Pacific. The company, which is building a new cannery in Pago Pago, believes that smaller island countries should be delivering their catches to the local canneries rather than trying to build their own fish processing facilities.

Island nation Seychelles not immune to human traffickers, warns UN rights expert
Seychelles – 3 February 2014 –
An independent United Nations human rights expert today called on the Seychelles, an Indian Ocean island off the east coast of Africa, to prevent and fight trafficking in persons, while noting that the problem remains hidden owing to a lack of awareness.

Best season in 20 years
Australia – 4 February 2014 – Port Lincoln Times
THE 2014 tuna season is set to be the strongest in more than 20 years, according to Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association chief executive officer Brian Jeffriess.

Europe –MENA

EU Refuses to Accept VDS for its Tuna Vessels
E.U. – 7 February 7, 2014 – (access via homepage –
The European Union has refused to accept the Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) of the PNA countries for its tuna seiners fishing in the Pacific Ocean.

Kuwaiti coastguard arrests Iranian ‘drug smugglers’
Kuwait – 5 February 2014- Gulf News
The Kuwaiti coastguard arrested six suspected Iranian drug smugglers and seized their vessel when it entered the Gulf state’s territorial waters, the interior ministry said on Tuesday.

European Parliament approves fisheries agreement with Gabon
European Union – 7 February 2014 –
The European Parliament (EP) adopted the new protocol on fisheries between the European Union (EU) and Gabon, which will allow Spanish and French tuna vessels to operate in the African country fishery.

Fishing standards scheme to be improved
United Kingdom – 7 February 2014 –
A certification scheme created to raise standards in the UK catching sector is to be revised to ensure it remains fit for purpose and helps the seafood industry work towards a more transparent supply chain.

Salmon exports reach highest ever value in January
Norway – 7 February 2014 –
The value of Norwegian salmon exports in January 2014 reached NOK 3.7 billion (USD 590 million). This figure represents an increase of NOK 1 billion (USD 159.5 million) compared to January last year, and the highest ever value for the same month, according to figures from the Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC).

Huge investment to fight illegal fishing
European Union – 4 February 2014 –
From 2010 to date, the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) of the European Union (EU) made 230 controls to combat illegal fishing in all Member States. According to the Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, during these four years were spent EUR 185.2 million in technology and 12,000 boats were equipped to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.


FAO to help Ghana fight unregulated fishing
Ghana – 2 February 2013 – Ghana Web
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is to support the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) to address the issues of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing along the shores of the country.

Tanzanian authorities intercept ship carrying 200kg heroin
Tanzania – 5 February 2014 –
Tanzanian anti-narcotics authorities have intercepted an Iranian vessel carrying 200 kg of heroin worth about $5million and arrested eight Iranians and four Pakistanis in connection with the haul, police said on Wednesday. The reasons for this decline - which researchers and conservationists agree could get far worse over the next decade - are many and various.

Madagascar: Island Stress
Madagascar – 2 February 2014 – All Africa
The fishermen in Sarodrano, a coastal village in south-west Madagascar, complain about their steadily declining catches. "On a good day, I used to catch 15kg of fish," says Melau Feaucre Johanison, a 39-year-old fisherman. "But if it is too stormy, we don't catch anything. There are some months when there is no fish at all."


The Cost of Human Trafficking
Global – 4 February 2014 – Finance Asia
Human trafficking represents the recruitment, transport, receipt and harbouring of people for the purpose of exploiting their labor.

The World Bank: 62% of the global fish and seafood consumption to be provided by farms in 2030
Global – 7 February 2014 – World Bank Report

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

NOAA Retreats From Preemption Position in 3 States

Guest Blog
by AJ Sablan

Big news from the United States today.  The Obama Administration and NOAA have retreated from their attempt to overturn the shark fin trade bans in California, Maryland, and Washington.  The deadline to comment on this issue ended on July 31, 2013, so it took just over 6 months to make a decision on these first three states.   No timeline has been announced for the remaining eight states and territories with shark fin trade bans, but there have been reports that consultations with the territories will take place in March.

The press release from NOAA has some very concerning language that makes me wonder if this whole issue was one giant misunderstanding.  According to NOAA, " eleven states and territories have enacted their own shark finning laws, each of which takes a slightly different approach to shark conservation and management."

That is an amazingly incorrect statement.  I've written about shark finning here, here, here, here, and here.  Shark finning is about handling and utilization of sharks.  It determines how a shark is killed, not how many.  The state and territorial laws ban the sale, trade, and possession of shark, not shark finning.  By legislating a reduction in the trade in sharks, fewer sharks will be killed.

The focus now moves to the remaining 8 states with shark fin trade bans, but we all know that the real showdown will be in Hawaii, which has the strongest law and no exemptions.

The Guardian wrote about the impending preemption last Thursday and followed up with the new announcement today.  HSI and HSUS applauded the decision in a press release.
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